AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

New rules for political content in signatures and user profiles. See this thread for details.

Author Topic: Summer Mountain Trip  (Read 6272 times)

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Summer Mountain Trip
« on: March 20, 2016, 05:12:01 PM »

Basically I'm looking at this trip some time in early to mid-summer this year.  I'm planning on hitting most of the National Parks in the area and almost every scenic highway.  Basically I try to keep my drives to 8 to 9 hours or 500 miles in a single day so I don't get road fatigue.  Here is the break down by day that I have planned so far:

Day 1
Start:  Denver, CO
End:  Custer, SD
Route:  I-70, US 40, US 34, I-25, US 26, WY 270, US 18/20, US 18/85, US 18, SD 89, US 385 and US 16/385
Distance:  498  miles
Drive Time:  9.5 hours
Major Sites of Interests:
-  Berthoud Pass:  A 11,800 foot mountain pass on US 40.
-  Rocky Mountain National Park

Day 2
Start:  Custer, SD
End:  Rapid City, SD
Route:   US 16/385, SD 87, SD 89, SD 244, US 16A, US 16, US 16 bypass, I-90, SD 240 and I-90
Distance:  260 miles
Drive Time:  5.5 hours
Sites
-  Wind Cave National Park
-  Needles Highway (SD 87) In Custer State Park
-  Mount Rushmore (possibly also the Crazy Horse Monument if I feel up to it)
-  The entirety of Badlands National Park

Day 3
Start:  Rapid City, SD
End:  Belle Fourche, SD
Route:   I-90, US 14A, US 85, I-90, US 14, WY 24, WY 110, WY 24, SD 34 and US 85
Distance:  167 miles
Drive Time:  3 hours
Sites
-  Sturgis despite it not being August
-  Deadwood, SD and the surrounding mine district.
-  Devil's Tower

- Basically this day is shorter so I can recover a little bit after the Black Hills but also simply due to the fact that I couldn't find a decent hotel anywhere in North Dakota along US 85 and I-94.

Day 4
Start:  Belle Fourche, SD
End:  Hardin, MT
Route:   US 85, I-94, MT 47, I-90, US 212 and I-90
Distance:  480 miles
Drive Time:  7 hours
Sites of interest
-  Theodore Roosevelt National Park
-  Little Bighorn Battlesite

Day 5
Start:  Hardin, MT
End:  Jackson, WY
Route:   I-90, US 212 and US 89/191
Distance:  379 miles
Drive Time:  8 hours
Sites of interest
-  US 212/Beartooth Highway
-  Yellowstone National Park
-  Grand Teton National Park

-  This will be the most difficult day by far.  I don't believe from previous experience that I will have much issues on US 212 entering Yellowstone given that I am planning on doing this on a very early weekday.  Where I will have issues is within Yellowstone itself and the long southward jaunt along the park roads to Grand Teton.  I've noticed that a lot of people who visit Yellowstone basically throw driving logic out the window and are all over the place...or stopped in the middle of the road antagonizing buffalo with smart phone cameras.

Day 6
Start:  Jackson, WY
End:  Grand Junction, CO
Route:   US 89/191, US 189/191, US 191, US 40, CO 64, CO 139, I-70, CO 340
Distance:  435 miles
Drive Time:  8 hours
Sites of Interest:
-  Dinosaur National Monument
-  Colorado National Monument

Day 7
Start:  Grand Junction, CO
End:  Alamosa, CO
Route:   US 50, CO 347, US 50, US 550, US 160, CO 150 and US 160
Distance:  401 miles
Drive Time:  8 hours
Sites of Interest
-  US 550/Million Dollar Highway/Associated Mine Districts
-  Wolf Creek Pass
-  Great Sand Dunes National Park

Day 8
Start:  Alamosa, CO
End:  Dillon, CO
Route:  CO 17, US 285, US 50, CO 115, I-25, US 24, Pikes Peak Highway, US 24 and I-70
Distance:  362 miles
Drive Time:  7 hours
Sites of Interest
-  Royal Gorge
-  Pikes Peak Highway
-  Fossil Beds National Monument
-  Leadville and associated mine district

Day 9
Start:  Dillon, CO
End:  Denver, CO
Route:  US 6, I-70, CO 103, CO 5, CO 103, CO 74, I-70
Distance:  141 miles
Drive Time:  4 hours
Sites of interest
-  US 6/Loveland Pass
-  Mount Evans Highway

Basically on top of what I have listed I have a huge assortment of more minor historic sites, minor passes, mining towns and various other roadside Americana planned which I didn't list.  I'm making this trip alone in a mid-size rental car out of DIA and staying in hotels, so the only person slowing me down will be me.  I usually handle National Parks and Monuments within 2-3 hours a piece since I have running gear that I can use for longer trials which helps with speed.  Basically I'm looking for anything in between that might be worth a good side detour or even just places that are good to eat.  Basically this is the first of my annual two or three mega-trips that usually exceed 2,000 miles...this one will be probably about 3,200 at the end of the day. 

Also I typical look to avoid as many Interstates or Freeways as possible unless they have some sort of scenic value...although I-70 in Colorado tends to.  I did a trip from Seattle all the way to Salt Lake City a couple years back where I only hit roughly 70 miles of Interstate as an example...
« Last Edit: March 20, 2016, 05:23:35 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

leroys73

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 330
  • Age: 70
  • Location: Dallas Area
  • Last Login: January 07, 2019, 08:33:11 AM
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 06:35:43 PM »

Awesome trip. 

I have been to Sturgis twice.  I love the Black Hills.  In my opinion you are not missing anything in August. 

Once we camped in a travel trailer at a very bad KOA the week before "The Sturgis" for three days which was an OK time to visit. The second time I was heading home from a 5600 mile motorcycle trip.  I wanted to ride the Black Hills.  When I camped in a tent at  very sorry campground in Belle Fourche with a lot of motorcycles I finally realized it was "The Sturgis Week". 

I almost changed my route home to avoid the Black Hills.  Yes, I ride a motorcycle, and it is a cruiser, but I have no desire to attend the carnival.  It was funny, I blazed through the town and it was wall to wall motorcycles.  I said, oh no, the roads are going to be crowded.  Wrong! Most of the bikers were in town at the bars so I saw very few out on the roads.  I had a great time and I can say, yes, I went to Sturgis.  That night I was in New Castle, WY.

The Beartooth and Rocky Mountain National are really great also. 

By mid summer I assume around mid July.  If so, that should be a good time.  I did run into rain, sleep, snow in August while going through Rocky Mountain National.  None of it stuck to the roadway.

You sure have picked some great touring.  And avoiding interstates even makes it better.

If you are camping Hardin, WY has a decent KOA.  Camping at Devils Tower looked like it would be good but may be primitive only.

Have fun and be safe. You will enjoy this one.
Logged
'73 Vette, '72 Monte Carlo, ;11 Green with Envy Challenger R/T,Ram, RoyalStarVenture S,USA Honda VTX1300R ridden 49states &11provinces,Driven cars in50 states+DC&21countries,OverseasBrats;IronButt:MileEatersilver,SS1000Gold,SS3000,3xSS2000,18xSS1000, 3TX1000,6BB1500,NPT,LakeSuperiorCircleTour

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 07:36:19 PM »

I have about 60,000 reward points to burn at hotels so no camping this go around.  I was actually out in Colorado last October and hit three of the National Parks while I was there but that trip was more about scouring out rural Utah and the Navajo Nation.  I'm definitely looking forward to it, the only thing that I wish that I could do is have enough time to get my new Challenger out that far east.  It's probably for the best since that thing needs a softer compound to really handle mountain roads like I want.

leroys73

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 330
  • Age: 70
  • Location: Dallas Area
  • Last Login: January 07, 2019, 08:33:11 AM
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 11:58:05 PM »

Utah is another of my favorite places.  I really enjoy the SE quarter.  I have been out there a few times by car and motorcycle.  If you go to the Race Tech Suspension site then the Street section then Cruiser section http://racetech.com/page/id/156 you'll see a picture of my motorcycle in Monument Valley.  I let them use it in their ad.   

Congrats on the Challenger.  The Wife has a Challenger, great car and fun to drive.  With the 5.7 and once we were out of the Dallas area, we averaged 26 mpg to Detroit to Cincinnati back to Dallas as long as I kept it under 75.   

 
Logged
'73 Vette, '72 Monte Carlo, ;11 Green with Envy Challenger R/T,Ram, RoyalStarVenture S,USA Honda VTX1300R ridden 49states &11provinces,Driven cars in50 states+DC&21countries,OverseasBrats;IronButt:MileEatersilver,SS1000Gold,SS3000,3xSS2000,18xSS1000, 3TX1000,6BB1500,NPT,LakeSuperiorCircleTour

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2016, 07:05:00 PM »

Utah is another of my favorite places.  I really enjoy the SE quarter.  I have been out there a few times by car and motorcycle.  If you go to the Race Tech Suspension site then the Street section then Cruiser section http://racetech.com/page/id/156 you'll see a picture of my motorcycle in Monument Valley.  I let them use it in their ad.   

Congrats on the Challenger.  The Wife has a Challenger, great car and fun to drive.  With the 5.7 and once we were out of the Dallas area, we averaged 26 mpg to Detroit to Cincinnati back to Dallas as long as I kept it under 75.

Yeah I have a couple nice photos of myself and my old Mustang right in the middle of US 163 in that stretch, absolutely beautiful part of the country.  I would like to replicate some of the shots in Vanishing Point if I ever get around to it in the next year or so, for now I'm waiting for the elevations over 5,000 to be a little bit more on the free side.  Mine's actually an RT/Scat Pack, I would seriously doubt anything with a 6.4L is going to do 24 MPG.  :-D

leroys73

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 330
  • Age: 70
  • Location: Dallas Area
  • Last Login: January 07, 2019, 08:33:11 AM
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2016, 10:56:55 PM »

6.4 and 24 mpg, not that would be nice.  I sure would like to have the Hellcat. 
Logged
'73 Vette, '72 Monte Carlo, ;11 Green with Envy Challenger R/T,Ram, RoyalStarVenture S,USA Honda VTX1300R ridden 49states &11provinces,Driven cars in50 states+DC&21countries,OverseasBrats;IronButt:MileEatersilver,SS1000Gold,SS3000,3xSS2000,18xSS1000, 3TX1000,6BB1500,NPT,LakeSuperiorCircleTour

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2016, 11:10:34 PM »

Suffice to say given that it isn't my primary car I don't expect to many tanks averaging 20 MPG.  :-D  The only issue I have with the Hellcat is that it's boosted with a super charger.  I would love to see a Z28 type track Camaro with something like 550-600hp naturally aspirated.  The 6.4L has a lot of guts to it but I feel like there is probably at least 550hp in there with some mild modifications.

thenetwork

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2318
  • Age: 2015
  • Location: Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Last Login: April 23, 2019, 10:17:14 AM
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2016, 11:50:34 PM »

Keep regular tabs on RM National Park -- Recent reports state that some of the roads thru the park still have record snow levels for this late in the season -- not including this past weekend's doozy of a storm.  There are some reports stating many roads, like Trail Ridge Road, may not open until sometime in June -- usually they try to get the roads open by Memorial Day.
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2016, 06:57:29 AM »

Keep regular tabs on RM National Park -- Recent reports state that some of the roads thru the park still have record snow levels for this late in the season -- not including this past weekend's doozy of a storm.  There are some reports stating many roads, like Trail Ridge Road, may not open until sometime in June -- usually they try to get the roads open by Memorial Day.

Yeah I've noticed, hence why this trip is the last two weeks of June.  I figure at the very least I ought to have two shots at the park whether it be heading out from Denver or coming back in.  The Bear Tooth Highway has similar concerns for me as well.  Late May would be a gamble in too many places to get the most out of everything.

SD Mapman

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 993
  • The best pace is a pace, and today is a good day.

  • Location: Running somewhere in Lawrence County
  • Last Login: April 16, 2019, 05:49:08 PM
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2016, 07:27:53 PM »

Day 2
Start:  Custer, SD
End:  Rapid City, SD
Route:   US 16/385, SD 87, SD 89, SD 244, US 16A, US 16, US 16 bypass, I-90, SD 240 and I-90
Distance:  260 miles
Drive Time:  5.5 hours
Sites
-  Wind Cave National Park
-  Needles Highway (SD 87) In Custer State Park
-  Mount Rushmore (possibly also the Crazy Horse Monument if I feel up to it)
-  The entirety of Badlands National Park

Day 3
Start:  Rapid City, SD
End:  Belle Fourche, SD
Route:   I-90, US 14A, US 85, I-90, US 14, WY 24, WY 110, WY 24, SD 34 and US 85
Distance:  167 miles
Drive Time:  3 hours
Sites
-  Sturgis despite it not being August
-  Deadwood, SD and the surrounding mine district.
-  Devil's Tower

- Basically this day is shorter so I can recover a little bit after the Black Hills but also simply due to the fact that I couldn't find a decent hotel anywhere in North Dakota along US 85 and I-94.
Okeeday, here's some unsolicited advice from a local about this part. Crazy Horse is overrated, so don't worry about that. The Wildlife Loop Road in Custer State Park (not sure if you had that on your shadow list) is pretty neat, and make sure to bring food for the burros (apples or something like that). For the Badlands, all the really good trails are on the east side (Interior and Cactus Flat area), while the west side is mainly drive-through scenery. Don't eat at the Wendy's on Mountain View Road in Rapid City; they WILL get your order wrong. Sturgis outside of August really isn't that much to speak of (but then most of us locals flee the Hills in August). If you're going to go through the Deadwood/Lead mine area, make sure to come out through Spearfish Canyon, as it is epic and awesome (no, I'm not biased). Don't go to the DC Booth Hatchery, go to McNenny instead (unless Day 3 is on a weekend). Finally, unless you've already made reservations, I would avoid staying in Belle if possible.
Logged
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. - G.K. Chesterton

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2016, 10:40:36 PM »

Yeah I've gotten a lot of negative feedback on Crazy Horse from a couple people that I know from South Dakota.  Yes I do have that part of Custer State Park on the list and I do have Spearfish Canyon as my route out of Deadwood.  I've heard what you are talking about with Belle Fourche but unfortunately it's about the only hotel between I-90 and I-94 in Montana where I can dump some of my rewards points.  Basically I'm hitting National Parks 41-44 for me on this trip which usually dictates a lot of the routing, most years I think that I would just continue west to Yellowstone from Devil's Tower.

SD Mapman

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 993
  • The best pace is a pace, and today is a good day.

  • Location: Running somewhere in Lawrence County
  • Last Login: April 16, 2019, 05:49:08 PM
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2016, 10:15:27 AM »

Yeah I've gotten a lot of negative feedback on Crazy Horse from a couple people that I know from South Dakota.  Yes I do have that part of Custer State Park on the list and I do have Spearfish Canyon as my route out of Deadwood.  I've heard what you are talking about with Belle Fourche but unfortunately it's about the only hotel between I-90 and I-94 in Montana where I can dump some of my rewards points.  Basically I'm hitting National Parks 41-44 for me on this trip which usually dictates a lot of the routing, most years I think that I would just continue west to Yellowstone from Devil's Tower.
The one good restaurant in Belle is a Chinese place downtown, just so you're aware.
Logged
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. - G.K. Chesterton

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2016, 10:56:21 AM »

Yeah I've gotten a lot of negative feedback on Crazy Horse from a couple people that I know from South Dakota.  Yes I do have that part of Custer State Park on the list and I do have Spearfish Canyon as my route out of Deadwood.  I've heard what you are talking about with Belle Fourche but unfortunately it's about the only hotel between I-90 and I-94 in Montana where I can dump some of my rewards points.  Basically I'm hitting National Parks 41-44 for me on this trip which usually dictates a lot of the routing, most years I think that I would just continue west to Yellowstone from Devil's Tower.
The one good restaurant in Belle is a Chinese place downtown, just so you're aware.

I'll have to check it out, anything is going to be better than the standard Subway, protein bar, fruit and bottled water routine that I usually do on these trips.

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2016, 09:40:46 AM »

Everything is a go on this trip tomorrow morning.   Not looking forward to the drive down to LAX tomorrow but it is what is.  Being able to get up to Bodie last week via Tioga Pass was a nice warm up.

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2016, 06:40:39 PM »

Made it to Denver just fine but near god I-70 is messed up.  What's going on with Pena Blvd that it's down to 55 MPH all the way to I-70?  Basically traversed a Walmart and got all my gear for the mountains tomorrow...looks like the weather is good for trying for US 40 and coming down the hill in Rocky Mountain National Park.  For some reason my rental car had tire all the tires inflated to 41-45 PSI so I dropped them all to 38...I figure they'll be 35 by morning and cold pressure minimum is 32.  Oddly the spare was at 55 PSI so at least there is a mini win that I didn't have to find a gas station with a compressor.  I'm basically sitting at the hotel waiting for Black Hawk down to come down, I'm thinking of hitting the road at 5 AM at the latest.

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2016, 08:51:25 PM »

Alright looped over through Rocky Mountain National Park and beelined it up to South Dakota, here are my observations on the day:

-  I-70 is way too slow at 55 MPH in Denver and really needed to be widened.  Granted this is an outsider observation, it just seems like the entire freeway in the city limits is a disaster and it's hard to understand why given how far north of downtown it is.
-  For some reason there was a US 6 and US 85 along I-70 west of I-270...I wish that I would have grabbed a shot since I didn't expect them.
-  US 40 through Berthoud Pass seems like it could handle another 5-10 MPH boost in the speed limit.  I actually had a hard time staying below the speed limit on the 6% uphill grade, it was usually either 35 MPH or 45 MPH.  Things leveled out to a good 65 MPH near Granby.
-  US 34 via Trail Ridge and Rocky Mountain National Park is a really high quality road.  I was pretty impressed that a 12,000 high road was in such good condition especially considering it gets snowed in seasonally.  Coming out of Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park to Loveland was brutal...brutal road and really bad conditions.  That was really disappointing to not see more passing lanes when they really could be used along the Big Thompson River.  I really picked the right way to go to the park via Berthoud Pass, that would have been exhausting coming up US 34 from Loveland.  Basically even going downhill on US 34 I had a scared Mini-Van driver and an RV holding things up.  I-25 was a sight for sore eyes once I hit it and got the hell out of dodge for Wyoming.
-  Hopefully people from Colorado won't take offense to this but what the hell is up with all the slow drivers in your state?  Seriously every time I go to Colorado I feel like at 5 MPH over the limit I'm in a rocket ship blowing everyone's doors off.  I'm not just talking mountain roads, I was even dusting people like it was nothing on I-70 and I-25.  Even last October it was the same thing when I visited Black Canyon, The Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde.
-  Wyoming has some awesome speed limit increases on I-25, US 26, US 18/20, US 85 and US 16.  For the most part I-25 was either 75-80 MPH outside of Cheyanne or construction.  Outside of towns all the US Routes were the proper 70 MPH that ought to be...nice increases over the 75/65 I remembered. 
-  I dig what Wyoming is going for signing US 85 and US 87 along I-25... at least you know what's there and the Interstate shield is way bigger to indicate what route is the primary.
-  But on the flip side Wyoming seems to love long construction zones that are 10 miles plus and jacking the speed limit down to 45 MPH.  I encountered a 9 mile zone on I-25 and a 12 mile zone on WY 270, the limits probably could have been 10 MPH higher.
-  Manville and Hartville were neat to see.  Apparently Hartville is the oldest town in the state?  That's kind of strange to think of...and it looks like Manville was killed off by US 20 realigning on a bypass long ago.
-  There was a bridge out on US 18/85 in Lusk which required a weird detour through town.  I would loved to stopped at Subway in town but there was a boy scout something there pushing the line out the door.  That's one pretty lonely road between Lusk and Newcastle, I'm surprised that there is no warning about the 70 something miles without gas.
-  What's up with all the red asphalt in eastern Wyoming?  Is that just they get from local quarries or something?...I've been trying to figure this mystery out for years.
-  The Jewel Cave on US 16 was a total bust.  I arrived by 3 PM which you'd think would lend some time to get a tour...no such luck.  I wasn't even allowed to see the entrance to the cave, what a friggin disappointment.  I didn't plan on the Jewel Cave but I had extra time and nobody should have to be told at 3 PM they can't even see the entrance to a National Monument.  I'll be at the visitor center at the Wind Cave at 7:30 AM before the 8 AM opening just so something like this doesn't happen there also.  If I have time Monday I might backtrack from Deadwood to the Jewel Cave since it's a shorter day...we'll see.  Worst of all was the unneeded 35 MPH drop on US 16 just for the monument when 45 or 50 MPH would have sufficed.  Also, what's up with the concrete sections on US 16 near the Wyoming state line?
-  Custer is kind of neat considering how much mining buildings are still around.  Kind of funny to hear that the reason the Main Street is so wide is because of cattle drives.

Some photos from Day 1:

Berthoud Pass/US 40




Rocky Mountain National Park/US 34 Trail Ridge






Hartville, WY old mining district




Manville, WY ghost town




Custer, SD old mining district


« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 04:39:49 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

thenetwork

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2318
  • Age: 2015
  • Location: Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Last Login: April 23, 2019, 10:17:14 AM
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2016, 08:51:18 AM »

Alright looped over through Rocky Mountain National Park and beelined it up to South Dakota, here are my observations on the day:

-  I-70 is way too slow at 55 MPH in Denver and really needed to be widened.  Granted this is an outsider observation, it just seems like the entire freeway in the city limits is a disaster and it's hard to understand why given how far north of downtown it is.
-  For some reason there was a US 6 and US 85 along I-70 west of I-270...I wish that I would have grabbed a shot since I didn't expect them.
-  US 40 through Berthoud Pass seems like it could handle another 5-10 MPH boost in the speed limit.  I actually had a hard time staying below the speed limit on the 6% uphill grade, it was usually either 35 MPH or 45 MPH.  Things leveled out to a good 65 MPH near Granby.
-  US 34 via Trail Ridge and Rocky Mountain National Park is a really high quality road.  I was pretty impressed that a 12,000 high road was in such good condition especially considering it gets snowed in seasonally.  Coming out of Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park to Loveland was brutal...brutal road and really bad conditions.  That was really disappointing to not see more passing lanes when they really could be used along the Big Thompson River.  I really picked the right way to go to the park via Berthoud Pass, that would have been exhausting coming up US 34 from Loveland.  Basically even going downhill on US 34 I had a scared Mini-Van driver and an RV holding things up.  I-25 was a sight for sore eyes once I hit it and got the hell out of dodge for Wyoming.
-  Hopefully people from Colorado won't take offense to this but what the hell is up with all the slow drivers in your state?

Colorado here. 

1] Denver's freeways are.woefully inadequate. Even the I-25 T-Rex project 10 years ago still is the site of some of the most congested areas.

2) As far as the slower drivers on the freeways, I can attest that it happens for several reasons [the treehuggers feel that the slower speeds.saves fuel which means less.need for drilling, Yada,yadda,yadda...]  Also, there are not as many left lane hogs, so although we may be doing 68 in a 75, we don't ride the left lane with 10 cars behind us in the left.lane. 

I'm in the middle 9f a cross country trip.  The left lane hogs seemsl to be at their worst EAST of the Mississippi.
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2016, 09:50:30 AM »

Regardless the reason it's nice not to have obstructions blocking the way on the Interstate.  Come to think of it wasn't there a whole deal planned to replace I-70 on Denver?   The worst left lane offender state has to be California.  I feel like I've been in a brawl if I have to travel any significant distance on a freeway with the lone exception being I5 north of Sacramento

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2016, 09:56:58 PM »

Alright trip report time:

-  Getting into the Wind Cave went just fine.  I got there at about 7:40 AM and got in as the first person.  Neat cave and worth going out of the way to see...hell that was my 42nd national park.
-  The Needles Highway was a lot of fun.  It was interesting seeing some old 1920s bridges being used along with a 270 degree hairpin south of US 16A.  There was even a buffalo herd to check out....and no I didn't stuff any of them in my car because it was unseasonably cold.   :rolleyes:  Interestingly the intersection of US 16A and SD 87 was down to graded gravel through construction...I thought that was strange.  The uppers Needles Highway towards the needle rock formations was a wild ride.  I think that I was about the only person not on a bike that was comfortable with the granite tunnels, lack of lane markers and tight roadways.  Definitely a fun road to take up through the Black Hills...has my recommendation.  Funny thing though...I expected a lot more people out today given that it's father's day and it was actually kind of slow.
-  That is until Mount Rushmore....holy shit I'll never understand why people put so much stock in monuments like that when there are better things to do in the immediate area.  Definitely worth seeing to take your pictures but I'd bail out once you get them.  The Hoover Dam and Statue of Liberty had the same vibe with the sea of humanity.
-  Keystone wasn't worth stopping in given how packed it was.  Rockerville made for an interesting side trip to see the old alignment of US 16 on Main Street.  I'm to understand that most of the junky looking buildings were from when Rockerville was on US 16 and no bisected by it.  Apparently the junked up shops have nothing to do with the mining era in the 1870s but the tourist boom from the 1920s to when US 16 was routed on an expressway around Rockerville both ways...neat to see.
-  The US 16 Truck bypass sure is nice getting to I-90.  The speed limit didn't dip below 60 MPH until I approached the I-90 ramps.
-  I-90 was just kind of there and in retrospect I would have tried to route back through SD 44 to Rapid City.  At least I-90 was 80 MPH but I ran into a military convoy on the way back from Badlands that held things up when the RV crowd couldn't manage passing or making way out of the left lane.  I took the east entrance on SD 240 in Badlands back to Wall, it was definitely the surprise of the trip so far.  The erroded bluffs really remind me of Bryce Canyon or the Painted Desert...not so much a grassy plain.
-  Okay...how does Rapid City have a Culver's and not a BofA?...really?  Not that I'm disappointed with Culver's since it was a rare delicacy that I don't often have.  The kid at the counter was being screamed at by his supervisor...didn't really appreciate seeing that.  Aside from that I grabbed some supplies and I'm watching game 7 of the NBA finals to call it a night.

Photo update:

Wind Cave National Park





Needles Highway SD 87







Mount Rushmore




Ruins of Rockerville, SD.  This place is bisected by modern US 16 while the old road runs through the middle of town.  I'm to understand that these tourist buildings that were put up after the mining era.




Badlands National Park





« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 04:53:47 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2016, 09:02:36 PM »

Trip report for the final day in the Black Hills:

-  Started the day out by checking out the Black Hills Mining District.  Basically this included; Sturgis, Deadwood, Central City, Lead, Homestake Mine, Terraville, Elmore, Quincy Railroad/US 14A, Savoy, Spearfish Canyon and Spearfish.  I'm a big mining and ghost town nut so seeing all that stuff pretty much intact was pretty cool.  Sturgis didn't really have anything motorcycle wish open but I would have liked to see the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.  I got a couple miles running in through Deadwood and Lead within sight of the Homestake Mine....Terraville is just something I know was there and Central City just kind of existed.  It was neat to see US 14A in Spearfish Canyon since I know it was part of the Quincy Railroad until the 1930s.  Now the one thing I'm confused on that I can't seem to find a clear answer; was US 14 ever signed through Spearfish Canyon, Lead, Deadwood to Sturgis or was it always US 14A like it is now after the mid-30s extension? 
-  Speaking of US 14 I took that and WY 24 out to WY 110 which led up to Devil's Tower.  Devil's Tower had a Mount Rushmore crowd but I was able to break free of them on a mountain run/hike (I'm a distance runner) for about 2 miles.  Got my required photos and had my memories jogged about the weird Simon Says sequence from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
-  WY 24 east of Devil's Tower to Huelett was pretty jacked up by a 4 lane flag man section but at least the paving machines were out.  I had a look at the General Store in Aladdin and the Coal Chute to the east of town before crossing onto SD 34 towards Bell Fourche.  I actually think this is the most comfortable room I've had on the trip and the neat thing is that the city has a river run that's about 4 miles long...so got the 8 miles I was hoping for...usually it's one shot deal on a low mileage day.  Something strange I noticed is that the US 212 business route signs are just black/white blanks similar to a MA State Highway shield...what the hell is up with that?

Photo update:

Sturgis, SD



This is all stuff from the Black Hills mining district.

Deadwood, SD





Central City, SD




Lead, SD and Homestake Mine




Spearfish Canyon (the old power plant has the Homestake Mining Company logo on it)





Devil's Tower National Monument




Aladdin, WY an old coal mine town on WY 24

« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 05:09:25 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2016, 06:37:50 AM »

Fairly decent documentary from 1940 on the Homestake Mine.  They really go in depth with how the mining was actually done and the ore refining process.  I'm highly amused by the worker handling the cyanide solution with his bare hands and all those "happy" Homestake Workers at the end of the video.  :-D 

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2016, 09:56:18 PM »

Trip report for today:

-  I didn't see another car heading the same direction of travel as me northbound on US 85 for 110 miles until Bowman, ND.  I had two cars in front of me in Bowman and aside from a paint truck there wasn't any for the 60 miles up to I-94.  Checked out Amidon on the way through...apparently it is the smallest incorporated county seat in the country with 15 residents.  I'm surprised that US 85 doesn't come in talks for the most lonely road in America...that is some desolate grassland.  It did look like there was an abandoned old alignment of US 85 following the power lines on the east side of the modern highway north of Belle Fourche for at least 10 miles.
-  I-94 through North Dakota to the state line was weird.  There was construction zones that crossed the median that were signed as 65 MPH but didn't have a concrete divider...I can't remember the last time I saw something like that.  Had a decent look at an old part of US 10 before heading in TR Roosevelt National Park.  They actually had a sign talking about the original entrance and an abandoned segment of US 10 which would roughly be here southeast of the signed Prairie Dog Town:

https://www.google.com/maps/@46.9049492,-103.4204743,1963m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

-  I-94 in Montana was hyper fast at 80 MPH.  A lot of the old alignments of US 10 and US 12 are still used locally which can be seen easily from I-94.  The construction zones were weird and short...but had drops from 80 MPH to 35 MPH.
-  MT 47 was a quality road and fast at 70 MPH...not much else to say other than that.
-  I-90 to Little Bighorn had some pretty obvious signs of older alignments of US 212/87 in the Crow Reservation.  Some of the segments were signed off and looked pretty nasty.  I'm not really clear on something though, does the road through Little Bighorn actually have a state route number?  I noticed a route number on the GPS map but there was no signs posted anywhere...maybe it was an Indian Route that was once signed?

Photo Update:

The ruins of Redig, SD on the middle of nowhere US 85.




Theodore Roosevelt National Park






Mendora, ND...apparently this was a coal mine town before TR National Park was founded.




Little Bighorn Battlefield Site National Monument




« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 05:24:38 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2016, 11:19:30 PM »

Trip report for today:

-  Started the morning out near Billings trying to hydrate up for Yellowstone.  However given that it was about 52 F out in Billings I had to make an unplanned stop but fortunately I found a Pilot station which was a straight shot back onto I-90.
-  US 212 from Laurel to Red Lodge is friggin packed with morning commuters heading east.  I'm surprised there has been at least a partial four lane upgrade if not way more passing lanes.  The reverse must be true during the evening commute.
-  I would really recommend staying in Red Lodge if you want to avoid people on your Yellowstone trip before/after visiting the park.  I didn't see one hotel that was anywhere near capacity and some of them really looked nice.  They have a pretty neat downtown area which is the start of the Beartooth Highway.
-  Things were a little nutty on the Beartooth.  The uphill climb out of Red Lodge had a lot of rock falls overnight, so it was a little nerve wracking getting to the top given that I had to hyper focus on what was in the road.  I'll say this though...this might be the most beautiful mountain drive in the country...I would put it above Trail Ridge and Tioga Pass for sure.  I basically had the entire road to myself until I hit Yellowstone the only thing that I wasn't really clear on was the speed limit since it was very poorly signed until I reentered Montana.
-  Yellowstone was great up until right after I left the Canyon.  I had a great 50 minute run going up and down the canyon to view points.  When I went over to the west side of the park things got way too nuts with people stopping to gawk at animals which caused a 20 minute back-up near the turn off for the west entrance.  The spring view points were way too pack with tourists and I just parked out on the road so I could run in instead of wading the car through a packed parking lot.  Pro-tip; if you are there to see Yellowstone and don't care about the drive get into the park via the west entrance at 5 AM and you'll have a run of the springs up to Old Faithful to yourself.  9 AM is when things get really bad and you ought to head up to the Canyon, Yellowstone Lake or Mammoth Springs...none are ever that crazy busy.
-  Driving through Yellowstone to Grand Teton is basically pure torture due to the 45 MPH speed limit and heavy volume of cars.  I really don't understand what they have against 55 MPH south of Yellowstone Lake since there isn't many stopping points south of West Thumb Visitor Center.
-  Grand Teton was way nicer than last since the mountains were obscured by low hanging clouds at 10,000 feet.  The only bad thing the weather caused was sun streaks in some of my pano shots.
-  I was exhausted by the time I reached Jackson.  I figure that with all the uphill running I did that it amounted to 7-8 miles...it felt like it.  I actually drank about 100oz of fluid in the park and it wasn't even cold out.  I'll have to try for a winter visit to Yellowstone even though it will be limited next time...the place must be drastically different without tourists and a crap load of snow.  I'm figuring West Yellowstone might be a good staging location for a winter run to the Canyon and Old Faithful.
-  So I think that I have it worked out in my head how US 14, US 89, US 191, US 189, US 287 would all run through Yellowstone...but I'll open a thread on it some other time.

Tomorrow isn't anything too crazy, just a rural drive mostly on US 191 and visits to two national monuments.  I'll be staying the night in Grand Junction, it will be nice to see some small cityscape for the overnight.  Definitely sleeping in long enough to get my free breakfast tomorrow.  I'm paying a crap ton for this hotel room, so I might as well take advantage of it.

Photo update:

Beartooth Highway US 212








Yellowstone National Park







Grand Teton National Park



« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 05:38:08 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2016, 12:00:14 AM »

Road report for today:

-  Well I ate something a little too spicy last night in Jackson and it made my morning miserable.  I had a stomach ache for about 80 miles from Jackson to Pinedale....wasn't the slightest bit fun and I should have known better and ate bland.
-  Speaking of US 191, that's one hell of a quality road from Jackson to Rock Springs.  It's very fast with mostly 70 MPH zones and a crap ton of passing lanes.  It was kind of nice to have the Tetons as a backdrop in the rear view mirror.  There was a crap ton of highway patrol for some reason around Pinedale and I couldn't figure out why.
-  I-80/US 30 came and went....funny I drove it for 5 miles.
-  US 191 in Utah north of Vernal is really ugly shape.  The entire road needs a repave really badly and it's pretty apparent it's a trucking favorite with all the weight restriction signs.  I think Dagget County has the market cornered on deputies in one location...there was three of them at the Flaming Gorge Dam.  I'm fairly certain that the mining company north of Vernal is influencing the really inadequately low speed limit on the grade down to Vernal...it could have handled 50 MPH in the 40 MPH sections no problem.
-  US 40 was just meh....weird to see it alive in the desert though.  There was a lane paving project going on in the Utah side but the construction crews probably had the all time fastest guide truck to get through the one-lane sections.
-  Dinosaur National Monument is pretty neat...I hadn't been before today.  It was neat to see those three canyons come all togethr in one place on in the Colorado Section of the park.  It took a good 30 miles to get to the final overlook but it was a breeze given how few people were actually there.  I would recommend stopping in if travels find you on US 40 for whatever reason...totally adequate park road and no crowds to bother you...feels like you are at the edge of the world.
-  I took CR 134/1 to CO 64 and down to CO 139 to get over the Book Cliffs via Douglas Pass.  Holy shit CO 139 is a god awful road...it's one of the worst maintained state highways I've run into in quite a long time.  The pavement is jagged, potholed badly and even subsiding in places.  It's one of the few roads where I thought the advisory speed limits were actually accurate...there needs to be some serious repairs done to the whole route.  Douglas Pass was neat though, that must have been one hell of a feat of engineering getting 139 paved up that pass in the 1970s.
-  I was only I-70 for three miles...got a really good view of it from Colorado National Monument as I was coming down the Rim Rock Drive.  Drove a small portion of CO 340 to get to Colorado National Monument...very small.
-  Ended up driving a lot of US 50 and US 6 in Grand Junction to get to the hotel.  Not much to say other than they seem to be adequate for the size of Grand Junction....  What isn't adequate though is all those damn round about that the city seems to have fell in love with.  Really TWO round abouts on one exit to I-70?

Photo update:

Flaming Gorge Dam




Dinosaur National Monument





CO 139 and Douglas Pass over the Book Cliffs



Colorado National Monument




« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 06:00:35 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8429
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:36 AM
    • Sure, Why Not? (Highway Blog Spot)
Re: Summer Mountain Trip
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2016, 10:47:46 PM »

Today's report from Colorado:

-  Alright...I ran into three flagmen stands on; US 550, US 160 and CO 17.  Does the DOT here in Colorado have some sort of love affair with not shifting traffic onto the shoulder that I don't know about?  US 550 on top of Red Mountain Pass made sense but US 160 in Wolf Creek had TONS of room for two-way traffic and so did CO 17.  Fortunately it's the weekend tomorrow so hopefully I won't run into much of that crap....or people since I'll be traveling the opposite direction of the cities east of the Front Range.
-  Okay so I started out the day using I-70 and CO 141 to bypass most of Grand Junction to US 50.  US 50 between Grand Junction and Montrose seems WAY more beat up than it did last October....lots of airborne tires in sections.  US 50 to CO 347 was just fine the latter actually had a lot of repaving work up to Black Canyon.  Nice seeing Black Canyon again...just a side bonus since I was there last October.
-  Alright as a former highway patrolman I'm saying this....what the hell is up with the huge show of force in that little tiny old mining/rail town called Ridgeway?  The last time I was in Ridgeway almost nobody was there and there was a couple tourists heading down to Ouray.  Today they had a small festival and some road work going on...there were cops EVERYWHERE.  I counted six patrol vehicles...way to make people feel unwelcome.  Mind you this is a town that saw it's heyday probably around 1890 and has a current population of about 700...all I wanted was to see some old brick buildings and be on my merry way.
-  Ouray was much more pleasant despite similar road work to Ridgeway.  There is a couple really nice views of the town just up US 550 as the Million Dollar Highway segment begins.  Uncompahgre Gorge up to Red Mountain Pass had a crap ton of old mining ghost towns that I didn't notice the last time through.  Apparently I found what was left of Ironton, Albany and Chattanooga according to my map research.  Apparently there were three more somewhere between the top of Uncompahgre Gorge and Red Mountain Pass but the Idarado Mine might have wiped them out. 
-  Silverton was the real prize today out on 550.  Traffic was light in town given it was Friday and got to pretty much have the whole thing to myself when everyone poured into the buildings when it began to rain.  Not too many people on US 550 from Silverton to Durango...good thing too since I was getting pretty beat up from the mountains.
-  I already went on my rant about Wolf Creek Pass on US 160...I was just glad to finally get to CO 112.  I was perfectly happy being on the back roads heading to the Great Dunes...although the flagman stand at CO 17 seemed unnecessary.  Lane 6 heading east was all beat up in comparison to last year with lots of ruts and partial washouts.  Nothing too unusual about the Dunes or CO 150...although there was a weirdly shaped US 160 sign at the southern terminus.

Basically I'm beat..that was some hard core driving over US 550 for a LOOOOOONG time with the back up caused by the flagman stand.  Hopefully tomorrow won't be so nuts heading to Pikes Peak from the east.

Photo update:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park




US 550/Million Dollar Highway:

Ouray



Uncompahgre Gorge



Chattanooga ghost town in Red Mountain Pass



Silverton



Molas Pass



Wolf Creek Pass US 160



Great Sand Dunes National Park




« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 06:14:04 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.